March 31, 2010

Arts and Crafts with Kelli

I inherited my mom's knack for arts and crafts. She used to go to garage sales, pick out the most random and weird junk, bring the stuff home, and turn it into magic. Well, not pure magic. I mean, a dresser can't grant wishes no matter how well you paint it. But she could make it over so well, it would put all these home improvement shows to shame.

I'm not quite that magical. My focus is more centered on creating something useless, or taking something previously useful and then making it useless. Plus, I just like doing fun, little projects. Here is a compilation of arts and crafts over the last year.

The Weird Kayden Picture

One boring day in the Petersen household, Kayden said, "I want to do a craft!" I thought for a moment. I looked at my supplies. I pulled out heavy cardstock paper, stickers, markers, and glue. I helped him lay out a design, then he went to work, coloring and sticking.

Then it was time for the pièce de résistance:

A bag of sand from our apartment's volleyball court.

We spread Mod Podge on the paper, then sprinkled the sand.

Then danced while it dried.

And finally, our masterpiece was done!

(Well, aside from where the glue was still drying on the boots.)

Kayden was very impressed and excited by this picture. To this day, it still hangs (quite heavily) on his bedroom door.

The Decoupage Clock

Unfortunately, the making of this project wasn't as well-documented because I was drinking with friends while working on it. One person's drinking and hunting is another person's drinking and crafting.

To clarify, though, the whole process wasn't done haphazard. When I started out at the thrift store, browsing the aisles, I was perfectly sober. As I sifted through the picture frames, I saw a canvas-covered box frame. But it wasn't a painting. Good thing, too, because I have a hard time destroying someone else's art. No, this was a manufactured, decorative monstrosity geared toward teenagers. Upon the hot pink canvas was the word "HOTTIE" and so many sequins that it looks like the creator used a Bedazzler nail gun to affix it to the wood.

(On a side note, I wonder about these self-declarative items. Who buys them? The teenager herself? If so, is it like a daily affirmation? Or does her mom see it in the store and say, "Hmm..."hottie," you know who that reminds me of? That snotty little hottie of mine.")

Anyhow, I picked it up and put it in the cart, because I decided I could give it a better home than wherever it had come from.

Next, I browsed the books and magazines. Amid all the National Geographic issues, I found two literary magazines, filled with poems and drawings. Neato!

I wrapped up my shopping then went to Home Depot because an idea was already forming in my head. I bought a clock-making kit for $5.00.

(Looking back on this, however, I would advise against anyone buying that particular kit, since it doesn't actually work. Unless time really does slow all the way down, then hang out around 6:00 for a while.)

By the time I got home, some friends had already arrived. Not to be deterred from my craft, I multi-tasked. I pulled out my trusty Mod Podge and decoupaged the day away, steadily sloppier and therefore, better.

(I ditched the letter/number idea, though. I liked the simpler layout better.)

The Little Shop of Horrors Lamp

Awhile back, I inherited a big box of comic books (or rather, I was left with one, but that's a story for another day). For years, I have wondered what the heck to do with them. They're just old enough that I don't want to throw or give them away, but not old enough to be worth any real money. As a result, the box has sat in closets, on the floor, in the trunk of my car, wherever.

But then I got the idea for another decoupawesome project. I pulled out one of the more interesting (to me) comics: The Little Shop of Horrors (I started to type Little Shop of Awesome just then. Subliminal, eh?). But where to stick it...?

I have had a certain lamp for close to a decade. I like it well enough. The base is a brushed silver lattice design, while the shade is a thin but durable paper.

It was perfect for my project. Once again, I pulled out that Mod Podge (I like glue, mmkay?) and started tearing and gluing. Any pictures or words that I liked. Rip, rip, rip. For maybe two hours when I should have been cleaning or doing laundry. Instead, I glued.

In the end, the lamp turned out to be much cooler than clean clothes, anyways.

March 30, 2010

Whoa, Nelly! Are You Moving Too Fast?

(Reposted from

There comes a time in every relationship when you want to learn all about the person you are dating. You want to hear stories from his childhood. You want to spend the whole weekend together in bed. You want to discuss names of your future babies.

Whoa, what? The future? Babies? Slow down there, missy! It’s natural for expectations to be high in the beginning of a new relationship. Before tension enters the picture, you can imagine all manners of a life together. You can easily see yourselves growing old together. But just as important as it is to want the relationship to sustain, it is equally so that you hold back before you send the man running into the night, wearing nothing but his unmentionables and a horrified expression.

How do you know if you are rushing the relationship?

You are pushing to meet his family.
Getting to know the family is a very private affair, reserved only for the best of the best. He will not want to bring home every girl he dates for a month or two. He wants to wait to see if this will last before subjecting her to his mother’s scrutiny. Let him call the shots on this one. He’ll know when the time is right.

You call and/or text much more than him.
You wake up and text, “Good morning.” He replies, asks how you’re doing. You follow up with three texts about a dream you had. He sends a curt “That’s nice.” At lunchtime, you call to see what he’s up to, to ask what he’s going to eat, to tell him you’re thinking of him. Then you call on your drive home to talk to him again. When he doesn’t answer, you send a text, asking where he is. That night, you send four more texts…and so on. Unless you are receiving a near equal amount of replies or he makes the effort to call you as much as you are calling him, your constant attention is probably smothering him.

You talk about the (distant) future.
Rather than planning the weekend, you are starting to plan your future in your mind. It’s good to feel optimistic that there could be a future for you two lovebirds…but don’t start wedding-dress shopping just yet. The quickest way to scare a man off is to have the “Where do you see this going?” talk too soon. Wait until you have more time together under your belt.

You want to see him every day.
Much like calling or texting too much, trying to see him every day will get old quickly. Not only could he (and you!) start to get burned out on all the couple-time, but he will think you are the possessive type by keeping him from seeing his friends. You each had a life before the other came along. Keep living that life. As you start to progress (naturally, without one person rushing it forward), you will start to develop a life that involves the two of you more. Enjoy this last bout of freedom, because if all goes well, it won’t last forever.

March 29, 2010

Do you ever just miss your significant other?

I just saw Keene at 7:30, but I've kind of missed him all day. Weird.

I just don't know how army wives do it. Or couples where one is traveling a lot. I'm too needy for that.

March 28, 2010

Thrift Store Hall of Fame, Volume One

I can't think of a better place to spend my (occasionally) hard-earned money than the thrift store. I love walking through the doors and instantly becoming overwhelmed by all the neat junk there is too peruse. Should I start at the dusty glass case filled with jewelry and cameras? Or the bookshelves filled with copies of Wild Animus and every John Grisham novel ever written? Or should I delve into the racks of musty clothing? Oh boy!

My earliest memory of thrift-store shopping was as a teenager, sifting through racks of little boy clothing. I found the coolest yellow football jersey which fit perfectly ("perfectly" at the time meant a tad too tight). From then, thrift stores became a way of life, whether it was by necessity, out of convenience, or just for fun.
Here are some of my all-time favorites purchases:
Urban Renewal tee, made in Compton (think it's bullet-proof?), fits like a dream: $3.00

Air Force style coat with patches and a liner that looks like a map: $6.00

Kayden wears this sucker every day.

L-R: black Kenneth Cole flats, tweed Xhilaration heels, leopard-print flats, yellow Xhilaration flats, gray Preview mary-janes flats, and lime Steve Madden kitten heels: each for about $4-$5.

I remember feeling very grossed out at the idea of wearing another person's shoes. But then I came across the leopard-print flats and reallllllllly loved them. I decided to try it out. Turns out, my feet didn't shrivel up or get athlete's foot. So I cautiously began buying more and more shoes from the thrift store. I have yet to get diseased feet.

When you consider that I walk barefoot through the city all summer anyways,
wearing someone else's shoes stops becoming weird.

Firooza. This picture is legendary.

The caption reads,

"The first time ever I saw your face
The moon and stars shone in your eyes.
Love, Firooza."

Since buying this for $2.99, we've often pondered its importance. Who is Firooza? Is he the seemingly-drunk guy in the photo? Or is Firooza the lover of the man in the photo?

We'll probably never know. However, Firooza is now a member of the family, and this photo is hanging in our living room.

I found all these items in one shopping trip. I didn't intend for them to wind up as my coffee set, but it works out well. Coffee grounds go into the owl vase, sweetener packets go in the honeybee jar, and stirrers go in the Pete mug (which no one but me, being the only Petersen here, is allowed to drink from).

This is the newest addition. This funky piece was created in 1968 by someone named Cordy(?). It's pretty neat, completely made up of overlapping wood pieces: $8.00.

I rarely buy furniture from the thrift store, but I don't know why. I guess I just rarely have use for another couch or table. However, I saw this armoire and just had to get it. Up to this point, we had the television sitting on a boring tv stand. We didn't want it just sitting out like that, so we stuck it in the armoire. It's really nice being able to close the doors and the area instantly looks neater and less cluttered.

When we bought it, we planned to repaint it a funky orange color. However, the blue color is pretty cool as is, so we're not in too big a rush to change it.

Records! Keene and I obviously scour the records whenever we go to a thrift store. Depending on where you go, they run from $.99 to $3.00 each. Pretty good, considering the classics you may find. Here are some of my favorites over the last couple years.

Unfortunately, I'm now on a book-shopping moratorium. I've filled about three full-size bookshelves with $1 paperbacks and $2 hardcovers, and now have nowhere else to store them. So, until I can clear some space by getting rid of books I've read and disliked, I'm not allowed to buy anymore.

And finally, three-piece, blue pinstriped suit: $10.00

Me-ow! I love a guy that can rock a beanie with a suit.

March 26, 2010

FYI: I'm grumpy as fuck

I had to stay up really late last night to wait for the tow truck driver (waiting until after Keene decided he couldn't fix it...I wanted to call the tow truck right away). Didn't get to bed until 1 am. Then I had to get up really early, in order to get out of the house by 6:30, so Keene could get to work on time.

So, little sleep + no Starbucks + being at this boring ass job an hour early + knowing I'm going to be here REALLY late = Kelli is channeling Satan.

I'm feeling suuuuuuper antsy.

1. More and more, this job feels like a bad fit. I feel ashamed of this, to jump so quickly from one job to the next. But I just can't shake this feeling that this place is not a good fit for me. I've never been so quickly turned off of a job before.

2. I don't know yet how I am getting home. It will likely consist of a bunch of buses and trains. Or one expensive cab ride.

3. I have started slacking a lot at work, which makes me feel squicky. But I just don't have much to do, even after asking for more work.

4. I'm nervous for Keene's show tomorrow night. I want so badly for nothing to go wrong.

5. I've had a lot of fucking coffee.

Adventures of the DIY Hairdo

I haven't had my hair professionally cut since November of 2008.

But let's back up a little. I used to have long, curly hair in the not-too-distant past. It's true.

I loved my hair and my hair loved me. But after a year of never combing it and of being in the sun all day, it started to get a little wild and a little dead. When it began forming miniature dreadlocks on its own, I decided I would cut it all off and start over.

In August of 2008, I did just that.

Before making the cut, the stylist asked me several times if I was sure. She told us about the many women who cried after cutting that much off. I insisted I would be fine. She made the cut, I fake-cried to give her a scare, but then my friend, Kortney, really did cry, which turned out to be funnier than my joke.

I loved, loved, loved my short 'do. It was exactly what I wanted.

But my hair tends to grow fast, so in November of 2008, it was already getting really shaggy. I had talked awhile back about wanting to get an "I got drunk and cut my own hair" haircut (but you know, by a professional). So I did. I chopped it shorter than it had ever been.

Shortly after getting this haircut, I was laid off of my job.

(Boo for the recession!).

Since finding work over the holiday season is damn near impossible, money was hard to come by. As a result, professional haircuts were even harder to come by. So I did what any person who doesn't especially value his or her hair would do:

I began cutting it myself.

It started with just the back. For whatever reason, my hair desperately wants to be a mullet. As a result, the back grows much faster than the front. So I would hold a mirror (or camera, as needed) in one hand and cut with the other hand.

My haircutting philosophy was, "Just keep cutting until it's kind of straight."

At some point, my bangs also started to get out of hand. So I tried my hand at those, as well.

Here is one thing I discovered in my adventures of a haircutter. In the movie, "Freeway," Kiefer Sutherland grabs Reese Witherspoon's hair and cuts it off (with a knife, no less!) right at the ponytail. Later, her hair is down and it looks fantastic.

Well, let me tell you: that is not accurate. Don't try that at home.

Here are a couple other things I learned the hard way:

- If your hair is slightly reddish to start with and you want to dye it brown, get a hair dye with ash tints in it. Otherwise, you'll end up with this:

- If you're giving yourself a trim, comb the section outward, then trim the ends that way. That keeps it from having too severe of an edge.

- With bangs, don't try to cut straight across, because it never ends up straight across.

Instead, separate it into sections, trim a little at a time, and finish it off with a razor.

One trick I tried was twisting the bangs tightly, then cutting the bottom. When untwisted, it framed my eyebrows neatly.

- Never trim your bangs while wet. They will end up too short.

- Finally, if you're going to try cutting your own hair, you must be willing to not freak out, not expect perfection, not get bothered by crookedness, and not worry about what others think of your interesting hair.

While I've gotten myself into some hair-related pickles, none of them have been bad enough to make me go to the stylist. Even after I started to get a little expendable income, I decided that paying a stylist to keep it up just wasn't that important to me anymore...though I won't rule it out for my next major cut.

I know my limits.

March 25, 2010

Senseless Census Excitement

I'm not quite sure why people are so excited about the Census being sent out. Friends were jabbering about it all day, hoping it would be in their mailboxes upon their arrival after work. I mentally patted them on the heads and humored them.

When I got home, I found an equally excited Keene, holding our own Census form. I expressed my confusion at why this was such a big deal. He replied, "Well, if it doesn't matter to you, then can I fill it out?!" Um, sure, guy. Knock yourself out.

However, his filled-in answers did make me giggle a little:

March 23, 2010

A Pee-Pants Kind of Lunch Break

I walked around the neighborhood again today. Having learned of a pretty bike path on my last excursion, I headed straight for it this time. I happily followed the dirty little stream westward maybe 100 yards, listening to my music. Suddenly, the asphalt beneath my feet turned to dirt and mud. I am no stranger to hiking the urban wilderness, so I kept right on walking. Just over a couple hills, I came upon a small railway bridge. Neato! I thought.

I started to question the validity of this bike path, however, when I--at a towering 5'3"--had to stoop to walk under the bridge.

Nevertheless, I went along with it because I could still see bike tracks in the mud. Those cyclists must know something I don't. Surely the path resumes after this weird snag.

However, when I came out from under the bridge and stood up straight, I spotted a dirty little tent set up not more than ten feet away. It was partially hidden in and under the brush. Next to the tent were scattered personal effects. I didn't take a picture of this, because well, I nearly peed my pants and wasn't able to focus on photo documentation at the moment.

Here is something you should know about me: I am illogically, irrationally afraid of homeless people. It stems from my childhood in Ogden, Utah, when my family was living in a trailer by the train tracks in the seedy part of town.

(This isn't the aforementioned trailer by the train tracks--which was destroyed by a tornado, apparently--but this is the trailer we lived in prior to that one. So, it does lend some credence to the story.)

Anyhow, one of the few things I remember about this time of my young life was when my brother woke up one night to discover a homeless man looking in the window, watching him. Egads! That gave me nightmares for weeks. After that, my parents were more cautious about letting us play outside at night or around the train tracks.

So, while I have met some homeless people since then (and have even been homeless for a brief stint myself), I can't shake that fear. Even as an adult, when I could theoretically explain away why there is no reason to fear them, I can't. In my mind, they have nothing to lose by going to jail...well, except their cardboard box and territory over the steaming, 17th-and-Market sewer grate. Unpredictability can be scary.

Okay, back to the present, I'm at train tracks, there is an occupied tent just to my right, and my parents' warnings about "the bums" come swirling into my head. I kept walking despite this, picking up the pace. I paused my iPod and prepared to run at the first sign of movement. Still following the bike path (which was no more than a path in the woods, it seemed), I decided that it must lead to civilization again. The best bet would be to follow it, rather than returning from where I had come, crossing the tent and crawling under the bridge again.
But, no. The bike path, instead, lead straight into a barb-wire fence and a bush. The entire area was covered with overgrown weeds and dead trees. At that moment, I heard a cough and froze like a pee-pants popsicle. I turned around and quickly rushed past the tent again, crawled under that smelly bridge while looking behind me, and scurried back to where the asphalt began.

In conclusion, this bike path was a big fat FAIL, Englewood Parks & Recreation.

Is It a Relationship Rut…or About Time You Give Up?

(Reposted from

All relationships ebb and flow, regardless of their longevity or level of commitment. The relationships change over time because the people within those relationships are changing. Sometimes those ebbs can be particularly treacherous, though, threatening to dissolve years of a couple’s hard work. When unhappiness rears itself—whether it is because of loneliness, external stress, or one of the million reasons a couple drifts apart—it can be very difficult to decide whether the relationship is temporarily out of service…or bound for the junk yard.

The first thing to figure out is what are you unhappy about? This is very important for one reason: is it directly related to your spouse? If it is work stress or a sudden death in the family, chances are it has nothing to do with your relationship. Rather, your spouse has become a scapegoat for your frustrations. However, if it is because of something your partner is doing (or not doing), that may be different. Is it your partner’s decreased sex drive? Is he or she not showing enough affection anymore?

Next, how long has this been happening? Are you on Day Three or Year Three of feeling like your marriage is doomed? While there is no definitive length of time within which you can consider your relationship to be in a rut, you may want to give it at least a couple months. Within that time, circumstances can drastically change, behaviors can adapt, and a looming problem can be resolved. However, this does not mean you should stick your head in the sand during this time. By all means, work on these problems as they crop up…but don’t consider your relationship null and void after a bad couple of weeks.

Third, is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Is there anything present which gives you hope for the future? Maybe it is an unexpected, passionate kiss in the kitchen while cooking dinner. Maybe it is the admission that he or she was thinking about you all day. While these gestures are small, they can give just enough hope to the desperate partner to keep trying.

Next, is your partner willing to work on these issues, as well? You can read all the self-help books in the world, apply the techniques created by experts, plan extravagant dates to sweep your spouse off his or her feet; but if that person is not reciprocating or even trying, your efforts are in vain. It takes two people keep a relationship going. While the amount of effort may change over time, there must be at least a little exertion coming from each spouse.

Finally, think about your life without this person. Would you be happier without this person in your life? This is the most telling sign of whether your relationship has reached its expiration date. Even in the gloomiest lulls or the most volatile arguments, a person can still think objectively: “My partner may frustrate the bejeezus out of me, but I still want him/her in my life.” If you think of a life without your spouse and all you feel is relief or hope, however, it is time to call it quits.

March 22, 2010

Zombies of Kansas

This weekend, I went to Kansas with my best friend, Kortney, to celebrate her awesome daughter's 14th birthday. The day of our eastward journey, Denver was slated to receive 5-10 inches of snow. And it worked hard to achieve that goal. The four-hour drive became a seven-hour drive, with Kort and I riding in tense silence most of the way. With our sleeping bags in the back, in case we decided to pull over and sleep in the car, we cautiously made it to WaKeeney, Kansas around two in the morning.

When we woke up the next morning, our cabin was icy. You think giving birth is difficult? Try getting out of a cozy sleeping bag in zero-degree weather with prairie winds blowing under the door! That, my friend, is overcoming adversity.

After choosing not to change into the frozen outfit I had planned to wear that day, I pulled on my sleeping bag coat and we headed toward Hill City to pick up Miss Zoe. Now, let me tell you about Zoe. She is the coolest teenager ever. She is witty, snarky, and very mature (when she chooses to be).

After a (very) brief tour of the small town she lives in, we headed off to Hayes, which is a booming metropolis compared to Hill City and WaKeeney. With a teenager leading the tour, we ended up guessed it!

We spent a couple hours, hitting great sales and browsing racks of bizarre clothing geared towards the young'uns. Then we hit up a local thrift store. And ooh-da-lolly! Let me tell you: small towns may not understand the concept of "retro" and "vintage," in terms of value. Kortney scored quite a lot of sweet items at super low prices, while the employees stared at her as if she were crazy. Which she kind of is. Crazy-smart. That is all I will say about her purchases, since I'm hoping she will be blogging all about it herself. And she did!

Nevertheless, here is a teaser picture and the reason we were oh-so-glad we ended bringing Keene's all-wheel-drive car to Kansas.

After a pukey lunch at Golden Corral (and here, I thought there was no such thing as a bad buffet), we headed back to Hill City to take the exhausted girl home.

Now, let me ask you, if you are in a chilly midwestern town for the night, with only your friend for company, how do you pass the time?

This Kansas-made beer was suuuuuuper tasty. I'm not sure if it can be found in Denver, but I will certainly keep my eyes peeled (ew) for it.

We woke up the next morning--surprisingly, not sick. Since Kortney was joining Zoe at church (and since I was pointedly not joining anyone for church), I took up residence in the town diner, the Peppermill. As I walked into the nearly-deserted restaurant, I felt as if I were in the Old West, sidling into a saloon, with the theme of "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" in the background. The five diners at various tables stared until I sat down, then stared a moment longer.

While my waitress seemed a little scared of me (I wasn't wearing makeup, after all), she generously served me coffee cup after coffee cup. In between chapters of Catch-22 (yep, still reading this...thanks, Keene-darling), I glanced up to watch groups of older people walking in, as their respective church services ended. It struck me by the slow way in which they moved that this may have been the inspiration for the first zombie movie. The way in which they held their arms out before them, as they reached for a steadying force or to open the door.

I thought to myself, "I hope I'll be lucky enough to grow old with somebody I love...and together, we too will be mistaken as zombies someday."

After a couple of peaceful hours of eating, reading, drinking coffee, and people-watching, Kortney returned and paid my tab. (Note to readers: chances are good that the small-town diner you find yourself in won't accept credit cards. Be prepared to carry cash. Or, if circumstances allow, a pig with which to barter.)

Then we set off for Zoe's birthday party for homemade ribs and the opening of fantastic gifts:

Finally it was time for goodbyes:
The beautiful daughter and mother:
However, before we could leave Kansas, we had to take a few important pictures.
I have decided I want this house. I will uproot it from its snug little midwestern neighborhood and transplant it to Denver. It will be much happier there...I'm sure of it.
Oh, Kansas. Until we meet again...